Wednesday , May 18 2022

Google’s AMP framework is ‘bad for privacy,’ the company said

DuckDuckGo’s browsers and extensions now protect against AMP tracking

Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo says it will “protect” against tracking by web pages with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages framework (or AMP) enabled. “When you load or share a Google AMP page anywhere from DuckDuckGo apps (iOS/Android/Mac) or extensions (Firefox/Chrome), the original publisher’s webpage will be used in place of the Google AMP version,” the company said on Twitter. The technology allows Google to track users, DuckDuckGo notes, and forces publishers to use AMP by prioritizing those links in its search results.

AMP was originally introduced — or so Google said — as a way to make mobile web pages load faster. But developers and others eyed AMP with suspicion, and some took issue with how Google prioritized AMP pages in search results. Improvements to mobile websites since AMP’s introduction have made it somewhat less useful to publishers in recent years, and many (including The Verge parent company Vox Media) don’t use the framework at all.

Google spokesperson Lara Levin said in an email to The Verge that the allegations about AMP were “misleading and repeat a number of false claims.” AMP, she added, is an “open source framework that was collaboratively developed with publishers, tech companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster” that lets publishers and websites “easily create great web experiences.”

DuckDuckGo’s announcement came as Brave, another privacy-focused browser, announced it would also skip AMP-rendered pages where possible. “And in cases where that is not possible, Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed,” the company said in a blog post. The tech is “harmful to users and to the Web at large,” according to Brave’s post.

Update April 20th 5:56PM ET: Adds comment from Google spokesperson

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